Former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman does not think that Munster believe that they can beat Leinster at this point.
Leo Cullen’s men won their six game in a row against Munster on Saturday in the Guinness PRO14 final in Dublin.
This was yet another year for the western province without winning silverware; a drought that has gone on for a decade since their last Celtic League title in 2011.
Speaking on The Sunday Paper Review, Jackman suggested that he truly felt this was Munster’s year heading into the final.
“I actually thought it was set up for Munster,” Jackman said. “Given the strength of the team that they had, with [Joey] Carbery back.
“Leinster, let’s be honest, took what looked like a gamble by keeping Tadhg Furlong, Johnny Sexton and Ryan Baird on the bench.
“Munster still couldn’t really land a blow. It would be wrong to say that Leinster were ruthless, because they should have won by 20 points.”
After another loss to Leo Cullen’s men, many fans have been calling for a change in the Munster management, however Jackman does not believe the blame lands on Johann van Graan.
“Johann [van Graan] is in the firing line now, but this is a generation of Munster players who, for 10 years, haven’t won a trophy,” Jackman said.
“It is easy to say: ‘aw but they are competing with Leinster and Leinster have the private schools and the population’.
“In those 10 years, there are Glasgow players, Connacht players and Scarlets players who have a trophy and a medal.
“It is not as if Leinster have been dominant for 10 years. They have been very strong in the last four years, but they had a dip as well.
“They had a dip when Johnny [Sexton] left and the transition after Joe Schmidt where they weren’t as good as they are now.”
Jackman has noticed a trend since 2011 and how players and fans react to Munster not winning titles.
“I just think that those players have blamed Anthony Foley, they’ve blamed Rob Penney,” Jackman said.
“They didn’t blame Rassie Erasmus, but they didn’t win a trophy under him before he left, and now Johann is the next guy in the firing line.”
The green jersey means more to some players
For Jackman, despite the wealth of young and new talent, there are a number of stalwart players that have not pulled their weight in the red jersey.
“They went out and signed Damian de Allende and RG Snyman, I know Snyman is injured, and they also have Joey Carbery and Chris Farrell,” Jackman said.
“But there is a generation there who have 150 caps for Munster who unfortunately haven’t added to the history of the club.
“You have to look at each group, and this group unfortunately, some of the big-name players have played better for Ireland than they have for Munster.
“You think back, Leinster have won the last six Leinster-Munster clashes. It is very difficult to beat the same team who have very close to equal talent six times in a row.
“Even in those games, tell me the last time Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Keith Earls were outstanding in those games; over six games.”
Munster’s mentality against Leinster is the issue
Jackman feels that it has gotten to the stage where Leinster are inside the heads of the Munster contingent.
“I think the match was won before kickoff,” Jackman said. “This group of Munster players don’t believe that they can beat Leinster.
“If you want to create a dynasty of dominance, creating that in players’ heads is phenomenal for Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster because then you can have a day where you don’t play to your best and you win anyway.”
He believes that the Munster of old needs to make a return, and that the current group of players need to relearn how to make their emotions work for them.
“Billy Holland is retiring, he has been a great servant of Munster, CJ is moving on, and Munster seem to have lost what made them special,” Jackman said.
“It was this ability to get the emotional pitch right. In rugby, we see it regularly with Ireland and England, emotion can make up for a lot inadequacies tactically, talent-wise or technically.
“Unfortunately for Munster, it seems like they have a gameplan, and if that doesn’t work it is over.
“To beat Leinster, they need to go a little bit deeper emotionally. Just beat them once and that changes the whole dynamic.
“Their motto is ‘Stand up and fight!’ I haven’t seen a huge amount of that recently in the last six occasions.”